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Transformers: Dark of the Moon (or simply Transformers 3) is a 2011 American science fiction action film based on the Transformers toy line. First released on June 23, 2011, it is the third installment of the live-action Transformers film series and was originally the final installment. It is a sequel to 2009's Revenge of the Fallen taking place three years after that. The film is also the first in the franchise without the involvement of DreamWorks, leaving the series to be produced solely by Paramount Pictures. Like its predecessors, Transformers and Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon is directed by Michael Bay and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. This was the last film in the series to be owned by Takara Tomy, as Hasbro assumed ownership of the Transformers films in Japan. This was also the last film in the series to involve the original human characters and last in the series to star Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Jess Harnell, Hugo Weaving and Charlie Adler for the first three films. The film's story is set three years after the events of the 2009 film, with the Autobots, during their collaboration with the NEST (Nonbiological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty) military force, discovering a hidden alien technology in possession of humans, which had been found by Apollo 11 on the Moon 42 years earlier. However, the Decepticons unveil a plan to use the technology to enslave humanity in order to restore Cybertron, the home planet of the Transformers.
Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, and John Turturro, Kevin Dunn and Julie White reprised their starring roles, with Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving returning as the voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron. English model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley replaced Megan Fox as the lead female character; the cast also saw the new actors such as the humans; Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, and Frances McDormand and the Transformers; Keith Szarabajka, Ron Bottitta, John DiMaggio, George Coe, Francesco Quinn, James Remar, Greg Berg, and Leonard Nimoy. The script was written by Ehren Kruger, who also collaborated on the narrative of the 2009 film. Dark of the Moon employed both regular 35mm film cameras and specially-developed 3-D cameras, with filming locations in Chicago, Florida, Indiana, Milwaukee, Moscow, and Washington, D.C.. The film was rendered specifically for 3-D, and the visual effects involved more complex robots which took longer to render.
In May 2011, it was announced that Paramount would move Transformers: Dark of the Moon 's release date of July 1 to June 29 in order to monitor an early response to footage. Exclusive early premieres in select 3-D and IMAX theaters took place June 28, 2011, one night before worldwide release in 2-D and 3-D (including IMAX 3D) formats—each featuring Dolby Surround 7.1 sound.
Critical reception of the film was mixed, with several critics criticizing its writing, acting, and length, but calling it better than Revenge of the Fallen and praising the film's visuals, Steve Jablonsky's musical score, and 3-D action sequences. Dark of the Moon grossed US$1.12 billion worldwide, and is currently the ninth-highest-grossing film of all time, the second-highest-grossing film of 2011 (behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2), the highest-grossing film in the Transformers series, and the tenth film to gross over $1 billion. Like the 2007 film, it was nominated for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects at the 84th Academy Awards. A fourth film, as both a sequel and a soft reboot, Transformers: Age of Extinction, directed last time by Bay, was released on June 27, 2014. A fifth film as of now titled Transformers 5 is scheduled for a summer 2017 release.
In 1961, the Ark, a Cybertronian spacecraft carrying an invention capable of ending the war between the Autobots and Decepticons, crash lands on the far side of Earth's Moon. The crash is detected on Earth by NASA, and President John F. Kennedy authorizes a mission to put a man on the Moon as a cover for investigating the craft. In 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 lands on the Moon to explore the craft.
In the present, the Autobots assist the United States military in preventing conflicts around the globe. During a mission to Chernobyl to investigate suspected alien technology, Optimus Prime finds a fuel cell from the Ark, discovering it had survived its journey from Cybertron. The Autobots are attacked by Shockwave who manages to escape. After learning of the top-secret mission to the Moon, the Autobots travel there to explore the Ark. There they discover a comatose Sentinel Prime – Optimus' predecessor as leader of the Autobots – and his creation, the Pillars, a means of establishing a Space Bridge between two points to teleport matter. After returning to Earth, Optimus uses the energy of his Matrix of Leadership to revive Sentinel Prime.
Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky is frustrated that he is unable to work with the Autobots and failing to find a job. He also becomes envious of the close relationship between his new girlfriend, Carly Spencer, and her boss Dylan Gould. After finding work, Sam is provided information by his eccentric co-worker Jerry Wang about the Ark, before Jerry is assassinated by Laserbeak – a condor-like Decepticon. Sam contacts the now-independently wealthy Seymour Simmons, and together they realize that Megatron and the Decepticons are murdering people connected to the American and Russian space missions to the Ark. They locate two surviving Russian cosmonauts who reveal satellite photos of hundreds of Pillars being stockpiled on the Moon. Sam realizes that the Decepticons raided the Ark long before the Autobots mission and intentionally left Sentinel and five Pillars behind to lure the Autobots into a trap - Sentinel being the key to activating the Pillars and the Decepticons lacking the means to revive him. The Autobots rush to return Sentinel to their base for protection but Sentinel betrays them and kills Ironhide, revealing he had made a deal with Megatron to ensure the survival of the Cybertronian race.
Sentinel uses the Pillars to transport hundreds of concealed Decepticons from the Moon to Earth and Carly is captured by Gould, who is revealed to be in the service of the Decepticons. The Autobots are exiled from Earth at the demand of the Decepticons to avoid war but as their ship leaves Earth it is destroyed by Starscream, seemingly killing the Autobots. The Decepticons, led by Megatron and Sentinel, seize Chicago as their agents place Pillars around the world. Gould reveals to Carly that the Decepticons plan to transport their homeworld of Cybertron to the Milky Way, then to enslave Humanity and use the resources of the Earth to rebuild their world. Sam teams with Robert Epps to go into Chicago to save Carly, but they are nearly killed by Decepticon forces before the Autobots intervene; revealing they concealed themselves during the launch of their ship to convince the Decepticons they were destroyed.
Working together, the Autobots and Human soldiers manage to rescue Carly and destroy Soundwave, Barricade, Starscream and Shockwave, with Optimus using Shockwave's arm-cannon to blast the Control Pillar, disabling the Space Bridge. Sam confronts Gould as he reactivates the Control Pillar. After a brief fistfight, Sam knocks Gould into the Pillar, electrocuting him. Bumblebee and Ratchet arrive and destroy the Control Pillar, permanently disabling the Bridge and causing the partially transported Cybertron to implode. Optimus and Sentinel fight while Carly convinces Megatron that he will be replaced as leader of the Decepticons by Sentinel. Sentinel severs Optimus's right arm and prepares to execute him when Megatron intervenes, incapacitating Sentinel. Optimus attacks Megatron, decapitating and killing him. Sentinel pleads for his life but Optimus executes him for betraying his own principles. With the Decepticons defeated, Carly and Sam are reunited and the Autobots accept that with Cybertron gone, Earth is now their home.
- Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, a recent college graduate who is once again tied to the fate of Earth's survival.
- Josh Duhamel as Will Lennox, the commander of the classified strike team NEST, an international task-force battling Decepticons with the Autobots.
- John Turturro as Seymour Simmons, a former agent in charge of the terminated Sector 7 unit and now a successful professional writer.
- Tyrese Gibson as Master Sgt. Rob Epps, a former NCOIC of the NEST strike team who now works at Kennedy Space Center.
- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly Spencer, Sam's new girlfriend.
- Patrick Dempsey as Dylan Gould, a wealthy car collector and Carly's employer who is secretly in cahoots with the Decepticons.
- Kevin Dunn as Ron Witwicky, Sam's father.
- Julie White as Judy Witwicky, Sam's mother.
- John Malkovich as Bruce Brazos, Sam's employer and boss at Accuretta Systems.
- Frances McDormand as Charlotte Mearing, the Director of National Intelligence.
- Keiko Agena as the assistant of Charlotte Mearing.
- Lester Speight as "Hardcore" Eddie, a former member of NEST.
- Josh Kelly as Stone, a former member of NEST.
- Alan Tudyk as Dutch, Simmons' personal assistant.
- Ken Jeong as Jerry "Deep" Wang, a paranoid software programmer at Sam's work.
- Glenn Morshower as General Morshower, Director of NEST, who communicates with the squad from the Pentagon.
- Buzz Aldrin appears as himself, meeting Optimus Prime at the NEST headquarters.
- Bill O'Reilly appears as himself, interviewing Simmons through his television program The O'Reilly Factor.
- Elya Baskin as Cosmonaut Dimitri, one of the two surviving Russian cosmonauts who gives Sam information on the Moon missions.
- Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots and keeper of the Matrix of Leadership who transforms into a blue and red 1994 Peterbilt 379 semi-trailer truck.
- Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel Prime, Optimus's predecessor as the leader of the Autobots and later a traitor who transforms into a red and black Rosenbauer Panther Fire Truck.
- Jess Harnell as Ironhide, the Autobot weapons specialist who transforms into a black 2006 GMC Topkick C4500.
- Robert Foxworth as Ratchet, the Autobot medical officer who transforms into a white and green 2004 search and rescue Hummer H2 ambulance.
- James Remar as Sideswipe, the Autobot combat instructor who transforms into a silver 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
- Francesco Quinn as Dino, the Autobot spy who transforms into a red 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia. This was Quinn's final role before his death shortly after the film was released.
- George Coe as Que/Wheeljack, the Autobot engineer who invents gadgets, equipment, and weapons and transforms into a blue 2009 Mercedes-Benz E550. His personality is based on Q from the James Bond franchise and his appearance is based on Albert Einstein.
- Tom Kenny as Wheelie, a former Decepticon drone turned Autobot who transforms into a blue radio-controlled toy monster truck.
- Reno Wilson as Brains, Wheelie's partner and a fellow former Decepticon drone who transforms into a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge laptop computer.
- Ron Bottitta as Amp/Roadbuster, an Autobot Wrecker who transforms into a Hendrick Motorsports #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet Impala.
- John DiMaggio as Target/Leadfoot, the leader of the Autobot Wreckers who transforms into a Chip Ganassi Racing #42 Target Chevrolet Impala.
"You just learn a lot more about the hierarchy, and there's more about the history of what they had in Cybertron. Leonard Nimoy plays a great role."
— Michael Bay, on developing Sentinel Prime's character
As a preemptive measure before the release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Michael Lucchi and Paramount Pictures announced on March 16, 2009, that a third film would be released in IMAX 3D on July 1, 2011, which earned a surprised response from director Michael Bay:
I said I was taking off a year from Transformers. Paramount made a mistake in dating Transformers 3—they asked me on the phone—I said yes to July 1—but for 2012—whoops! Not 2011! That would mean I would have to start prep in September. No way. My brain needs a break from fighting robots.
Screenwriters Roberto Orci
and Alex Kurtzman
, who had worked on the two previous Transformers
films, declined to return for the third film, with Kurtzman declaring that "the franchise is so wonderful that it deserves to be fresh, all the time. We just felt like we’d given it a lot and didn’t have an insight for where to go with it next". Revenge of the Fallen
's co-writer Ehren Kruger
became the sole screenwriter for Dark of the Moon
. Kruger had frequent meetings with Industrial Light & Magic
's (ILM) visual effects
producers, who suggested plot points such as the scenes in Chernobyl.
On October 1, 2009, Bay revealed that Transformers: Dark of the Moon had already gone into pre-production, and its planned release was back to its originally intended date of July 1, 2011, rather than 2012. Due to the revived interest in 3-D technology brought in by the success of Avatar, talks between Paramount, ILM, and Bay had considered the possibility of the next Transformers film being filmed in 3-D, and testing was performed to bring the technology into Bay's work. Bay originally was not much interested in the format as he felt it did not fit his "aggressive style" of filmmaking, but he was convinced after talks with Avatar director James Cameron, who even offered the technical crew from that film. Cameron reportedly told Bay about 3-D, "You gotta look at it as a toy, it's another fun tool to help get emotion and character and create an experience." Bay was reluctant to film with 3-D cameras since in test he found them to be too cumbersome for his filming style, but he did not want to implement the technology in post production either since he was not pleased with the results. In addition to using the 3-D Fusion camera rigs developed by Cameron's team, Bay and the team spent nine months developing a more portable 3-D camera that could be brought into location.
In a hidden extra for the Blu-ray version of Revenge of the Fallen, Bay expressed his intention to make Transformers 3 not necessarily larger than Revenge of the Fallen, but instead deeper into the mythology, to give it more character development, and to make it darker and more emotional. Unicron is briefly shown in a secret Transformers 3 preview feature in the Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray disc. Ultimately, the producers decided to forgo a plot involving the planet-eating transformer, and no further comments were ever made on the subject. Having been called Transformers 3 up to that point, the film's final title was revealed to be Dark of the Moon in October 2010. After Revenge of the Fallen was almost universally panned by critics, Bay acknowledged the general flaws of the script, having blamed the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike prior to the film for many problems. Bay promised to not have the "dorky comedy" from the last film. On March 19, 2010, the script was said to be finished.
Megan Fox was originally attached to the film, and Patrick Dempsey's role as Dylan Gould was to be the employer of Fox's character, Mikaela Banes. According to various published sources, Fox's absence from the film was due to Bay ultimately choosing not to renew her role in light of her comparing him and his work ethics to Adolf Hitler, although representatives for the actress said that it was her decision to leave the film franchise. Bay later revealed that Fox's comments particularly angered executive producer Steven Spielberg, which affected Bay's decision to remove her. "I wasn't hurt," Bay stated, "because I know that's just Megan. Megan loves to get a response. And she does it in kind of the wrong way. I'm sorry, Megan. I'm sorry I made you work twelve hours. I'm sorry that I'm making you show up on time. Movies are not always warm and fuzzy."
With Fox not reprising her role, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley was chosen to play Sam's new love interest. Ramón Rodríguez was initially planned to be in the film, in a role bigger than the one he had in Revenge of the Fallen, but he was dropped during early production. Shia LaBeouf stated that this would be his last film in the series, also concluding that director Michael Bay will not return for a fourth installment, though it was later confirmed that Bay would return as director in the fourth film. A few well-known actors such as John Malkovich and Frances McDormand also gained selected roles for the film. Malkovich explains: "I play a guy called Bruce Brazos, who's just a loudmouth, kind of business man who's Shia's character's boss. Who's just a jerk, and a kind of a loud one. But a fun character. Nice. It was fun. Very, very enjoyable, just with Shia, Rosie a little bit, and with John Turturro. So, for me, it was a blast." Another well-known actor, Ken Jeong, was cast as an eccentric co-worker and stalker. Jeong described the film, "Yeah, it's a small role in Transformers but yeah. I had an out of body experience working on that one because I just couldn't believe I was there. Still, that was not a thing where oh, I'm going to be a part of a blockbuster franchise like Transformers 3 or even now Hangover 2 for that matter. So I can't believe I'm a part of these franchises in any way. It was amazing. Michael Bay is brilliant and it'll blow your mind."
Themes and inspirations
Unlike the two previous Transformers installments, which were based solely on the script writers' endemic story, Transformers: Dark of the Moon was based on a novel called Transformers: Ghosts of Yesterday, written by Alan Dean Foster. The novel is a prequel to the 2007 film Transformers. It follows the same story structure as Dark of the Moon, being set in 1969, the year of Apollo 11. The story structure differs slightly, though, because the novel was written merely as prequel to the first film.
Due to the critically panned Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Bay decided to remove the characters called the Twins entirely from Dark of the Moon: "This one really builds to a final crescendo. It's not three multiple endings. One thing we're getting rid of is what I call the dorky comedy. [The twins are] basically gone." Due to fan rumors that the Twins would actually be in the film, the director made a public $25,000 "bet" that the Twins would not be seen in Dark of the Moon. However they were briefly seen in the N.E.S.T headquarters in their vehicle modes in the film.
Bay acknowledged that Revenge of the Fallen was "disappointing to the fans" and stated that he "doesn't want the third one to suck". Bay stated that he wanted Dark of the Moon 's final battle to be more geographic and feature a "small group of heroes" like Ridley Scott's war-drama Black Hawk Down, Joe Dante's science fiction-action Small Soldiers and Hasbro's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Bay also decided to include Shockwave because he considers the character "bad" and "He's got a much bigger gun [than Megatron and is] a little bit more vicious." According to The A.V. Club, the film had several minor story inspirations from the 1980s cartoon The Transformers, including the usage of a Space Bridge, and the "kicking the Autobots out".
Similar to the previous two installments, the film was told in the human point-of-view to engage the audience. Bay wanted Sam to have a girlfriend like in the first two films. Actor Shia LaBeouf said that Sam and Mikaela had become "one character" and, although he would "miss" Megan Fox, with this change "you have discovery again from a new perspective." LaBeouf also stated that the additions of Huntington-Whiteley and new characters allows Dark of the Moon to keep the "magic" of the first film.
Dark of the Moon also had numerous Star Trek references, partly because scriptwriter Ehren Kruger was a "big Star Trek geek", but also as a nod to the fact that new character Sentinel Prime was voiced by Leonard Nimoy, who originated the iconic role of Spock on Star Trek and voiced Galvatron in The Transformers: The Movie. The first Star Trek reference is when refugee robots Brains and Wheelie, who live in Sam and Carly's apartment complex, are watching TOS episode "Amok Time"; Wheelie comments "I've seen this one. It's the one where Spock goes nuts." The second reference is when Sam meets his girlfriend, Carly Spencer at work, and is being introduced to Carly's employer, Dylan Gould, Sam marvels at their workplace: "It's a beautiful building you guys have. Like the Starship Enterprise in here." The third reference is when Bumblebee says goodbye to Sam at Cape Canaveral: the words "my friend" are sampled from Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ("You are...my friend. I am and always shall be yours."). The fourth and final reference is when Sentinel Prime activates the Control Pillar, quoting Spock's maxim in Star Trek II and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few".
Transformers: Dark of the Moon's production cost was reported $195 million, with the cost of the 3-D filming accounting at $30 million of the budget. Preparation for filming began on April 7, 2010 in Northwest Indiana, specifically around Gary, which portrayed Ukraine in the film. Principal photography commenced on May 18, 2010, with shooting locations including Chicago, Florida, and Moscow. The first six weeks were spent in Los Angeles: locations included Sherman Oaks, Fourth Avenue and 5. Main. The next four weeks were spent in Chicago. Locations filmed in Chicago included LaSalle Street, Michigan Avenue, Bacino's of Lincoln Park at 2204 North Lincoln Avenue and around the Willis Tower. The scenes set in Michigan Ave featured a substantial amount of pyrotechnics and stunt work. Filming in Detroit was planned to take place in August but the Chicago shoot was extended until September 1. In late September the production moved to Florida, just before the launch of Space Shuttle mission STS-133.
While filming in Washington, D.C., the crew shot on the National Mall, and Bay stated that there would be a car race on the location. Two further locations announced were the Milwaukee Art Museum and the former Tower Automotive complex on Milwaukee's north side, then under redevelopment for mixed use as well as the city's equipment yard. Filming was scheduled to take place there after work was done in Chicago. On September 23, scenes were filmed at the former city hall in Detroit. On October 16, a scene in the later 1960s was shot at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, utilizing extras with period fashion and hairstyles. One day of shooting was also spent at the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia. Other planned filming locations included Africa and China. Though about 70 percent of the films live action footage was shot in 3-D using Arri Alexa and Sony F35 cameras, more than half of the film still had to be converted into 3-D in post production to fix technical flaws 3-D filming produces. Other footage that needed to be converted into 3-D in post production was either entirely computer generated or shot in the anamorphic format on 35mm film. 35mm film was used for scenes filmed in slow motion and scenes such as closeups of faces or shots of the sky which required higher image quality than the HD digital 3-D cameras could provide. 35mm cameras were also used for scenes where the 3-D cameras proved to be too heavy, or were subject to strobing or electrical damage from dust. Principal photography officially concluded on November 9, 2010.
Dark of the Moon has been found to contain recycled footage from an earlier film directed by Michael Bay, The Island. Bay similarly recycled footage from his film Pearl Harbor in the 2007 film Transformers.
Filming was temporarily delayed on September 2, 2010, when an extra was seriously injured during a stunt in Hammond, Indiana. Due to a failed weld, a steel cable snapped from a car being towed and hit the extra's car, damaging her skull. The extra, identified as Gabriela Cedillo, had to undergo brain surgery. The injury has left her permanently brain-damaged, paralyzed on her left side and her left eye stitched shut. Paramount admitted responsibility for the accident and covered all of Cedillo's medical costs. Nevertheless, Cedillo's family filed a lawsuit on October 5, citing seven counts of negligence against Paramount, and several other defendants (not including Bay), with total damages sought in excess of $350,000. Cedillo's attorney, Todd Smith, said, "This was an attractive 24-year old girl who had dreams and aspirations involving acting, and this kind of injury may well have a serious impact on her dreams." The filed complaint reads that "Cedillo has endured and will in the future endure pain and suffering; has become disfigured and disabled; has suffered a loss of the enjoyment of a normal life; has been damaged in her capacity to earn a living; has incurred and will in the future incur expenses for medical services, all of which are permanent in nature." In response to the suit, Paramount released the following statement: "We are all terribly sorry that this accident occurred. Our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with Gabriela, her family and loved ones. The production will continue to provide all the help we can to Gabriela and her family during this difficult time." On May 2012, it was revealed that an $18 million settlement had been reached between Paramount and the Cedillo family.
A second accident occurred on October 11, 2010, in Washington, D.C. While filming a chase scene at 3rd Street and Maryland Avenue, SW, a Metropolitan Police K9 Unit SUV accidentally rammed the Camaro that portrays Bumblebee in the film. The area had been closed off by the Washington, D.C., police, and it is unclear why the SUV was there. Both drivers were uninjured, but the Camaro was severely damaged.
As with the previous Transformers installments, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) was the main visual effects company for Dark of the Moon. ILM had been working on the pre-visualization for six months before principal photography started, resulting in 20 minutes worth of footage. Digital Domain also rendered 350 shots, including the characters Laserbeak, Brains, Wheelie and the Decepticon protoforms concealed on the moon, the space bridge, and a skydiving sequence.
ILM's visual effects supervisor, Scott Farrar, said that "not only were the film's effects ambitious, they also had to be designed for 3-D", and explained the company's solutions for the new perspective: "We did make sure things are as bright as possible; Michael called up theatre owners to make sure they keep the lamps bright in the theatres... make everything a little sharper, because we know that through the steps, no matter what, when you get to the final screening things tend to go less sharp." On the last weekend of ILM's work on Dark of the Moon, the company's entire render farm was being used for the film, giving ILM more than 200,000 hours of rendering power a day—or equivalent to 22.8 years of rendering time in a 24-hour period. Farrar embraced the detail in creating giant robots for 3-D, making sure that in close-ups of the Transformers' faces "you see all the details in the nooks and crannies of these pieces. It's totally unlike a plain surface subject like a human head or an animated head." The supervisor said that Bay's style of cinematography helped integrate the robots into the scenes, as "Michael is keen on having foreground/midground/background depth in his shots, even in normal live-action shots. He'll say, ’Put some stuff hanging here!' It could be women's stockings or forks and knives dangling from a string out of focus – it doesn't matter, but it gives you depth, and focus depth, and makes it more interesting."
Considerable digital animation was required for the elaborate Driller as it comprised over 70,000 parts, significantly more than Optimus Prime's 10,000 parts.
The most complicated effects involved the "Driller", a giant snake-like creature with an eel-like body and spinning rotator blades, knives and teeth. In Revenge of the Fallen, it took 72 hours per frame to fully render Devastator for the IMAX format, which is approximately a frame amount of 4,000. For the Driller, which required the entire render farm, it was up to 122 hours per frame. The most complex scene involved the Driller destroying a computer-generated skyscraper, which took 288 hours per frame. For said sequence, ILM relied on its internal proprietary physics simulation engine to depict the destruction of the building, which included breaking concrete floors and walls, windows, columns and pieces of office furnishings. ILM digital production supervisor Nigel Sumner explained: "We did a lot of tests early on to figure out how to break the building apart exploring a lot of the procedural options. A building that's 70 feet tall – to go in and hand-score the geometry so when it fractures or falls apart – would be a time consuming laborious process. The floor of a building may be made of concrete. How does concrete fracture when it tears apart? The pillars would be made of a similar material but made of rebar or other engineering components. We'd look at how a building would blow apart and then choose the best tool to help achieve the properties of that during a simulation."
Sentinel Prime (left) was modeled after actor Sean Connery (right)</div></div></div>
The scenes in Chicago were mostly shot on location, as Bay believed the plates had to really be shot in the actual city. Farrar was always fascinated with the idea of shooting on location, and then blending the film with computer-generated imagery. The visual effects team used aerial plates of the city's actual buildings and added destruction elements such as smoke, fire, debris, fighter planes, war, battles, and torn up streets. Four ILM employees also travelled to Chicago and photographed buildings from top to bottom at six different times of the day in order to create a digital model of the city to be used in certain scenes. ILM's crew designed many major action scenes, with many of the Chicago battle concepts coming from the helicopter shooting of the aerial plates.
Animator Scott Benza said Sentinel Prime had a face "more human-like than any of the other robots", having a more complex frame and "a greater number of plates" so it could be more expressive. ILM had based most of Sentinel Prime's features on Sean Connery, and after Leonard Nimoy was cast to voice the role, the effects were altered to incorporate Nimoy's acting as well. Every robot would take approximately 30 weeks to build visually. Originally, the fight between Sentinel Prime, Optimus Prime, and Megatron was considered to be on water in the Chicago River, but the budget was cut and the ILM realized that they would not want to present that version of the final battle to Bay, so they decided to have the battle take place on the bridge over the river. For a sequence where Bumblebee catches Sam and Lennox while transforming in mid-air, a digital double of Shia LaBeouf was combined with footage of the actor in high speed so that the effects team could time it for slow-motion.
Since Bay shoots all his films in anamorphic format, Dark of the Moon 's representation would be "squeezed in" to distort the image, and ILM would add in the robots and "un-distort" the image. The ample variety of filming formats used - single camera, 3-D stereo rigs with two cameras, anamorphic and spherical lenses - proved a challenge, specially as ILM had a deadline to deliver the 2-D plates to the companies responsible for the 3-D conversion. ILM made 600 3-D shots, and Digital Domain had under 200, while Legend3-D, the lead 3-D conversion company of the film, completed 78 minutes of work on the film and finalized the work of approximately 40 minutes of challenging non-visual effects and 38 minutes of visual effects shots.
Composer Steve Jablonsky, who had before collaborated with Bay on The Island and the first two Transformers films, returned to compose the Dark of the Moon score. Jablonsky's musical score was lauded by critics and fans. The score was released on June 24, 2011, five days before the actual release of the film.
The album was originally set for release in June 28, 2011, but Amazon.com listed the album as unavailable while the album was still being listed for release during the week of the film's global release. It was available for download on Amazon on June 30, 2011, and the score currently features 17 pre-recorded tracks that are featured in the final film. The score's length is approximately 59:47. The album for the film was released on June 14, 2011. It consists of singles produced by different artists and bands, and rock and alternative tracks. American rock band Linkin Park composed the lead single for the film, "Iridescent", as they did with the first two films: "What I've Done" was used in the 2007 film and "New Divide" for the 2009 film. The music video for "Iridescent" was directed by Joe Hahn. Two other singles were released specifically for the soundtrack, "Monster" by Paramore and "All That You Are" by the Goo Goo Dolls. Several other unreleased songs make their debut on the album, including "The Pessimist" by Stone Sour and "The Bottom" by Staind. My Chemical Romance's song "The Only Hope for Me Is You" also appeared and can also be found on their fourth studio album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys and on the soundtrack. The song was not exclusively for the movie, and was featured in the credits. The Black Veil Brides' song "Set The World on Fire" is also included.
"Although a bit more score-heavy this time around, the soundtrack is certainly featured and we not only rejoin characters we have come to know, but some familiar artists who are back again as well."
— Allison Loring, reviewing the film's soundtrack
Most of the characters returned for Hasbro's new toyline, which was released on May 16, 2011. In October 2010, Entertainment Tonight previewed the behind-the-scenes filming in Chicago. A two-minute teaser trailer was announced on November 27, and was posted to the Internet on December 9, 2010. A 30-second television advertisement for the film aired during Super Bowl XLV on Fox on February 6, 2011. The first full theatrical trailer was released on April 28, 2011. The very first clip was released on May 18. A second clip was released the next day on May 19. The North American promotional costs came to approximately $75 million.
In May 2011, the novelization, junior novel, and graphic novel of Transformers: Dark of the Moon were released. Both the novel and the graphic novel featured Skids and Mudflap as supporting characters, but the characters were missing from the junior novel. The graphic novel made reference to several Autobots from the IDW Publishing tie-in comics who died in the stories between Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon. Another novel, written by Peter David, was published on May 24, 2011, and was released only paperback. Though it is slightly different from the film, the novel still pertains to the topic and synopsis of the film it is based on in the outcome of the final battle. The novel features about 400 pages and is published by Del Rey Books. Its synopsis is:
All humankind was watching that day in 1969. And yet only a handful knew the real mission behind America’s triumph in the space race: to explore the alien ship that has crashed on the far side of the moon. Decades later, scientists are still struggling to understand the technology found on board—though with the treacherous Decepticons after it, a powerful force must be at stake. The only hope of averting a crisis is to reawaken Sentinel Prime, the long-lost leader of the Autobots—but who knows what else remains in the shadows, hidden from man and machine?
On June 14, 2011, Activision published a video game based on Dark of the Moon for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS. The versions for Nintendo's consoles were developed by Behaviour Interactive, while the versions for the rest of the consoles were developed by High Moon Studios, who had previously developed Transformers: War for Cybertron. Electronic Arts released the game Transformers: Dark of the Moon on June 28, 2011 for Nokia Symbian smartphones, Apple products iPod Touch, iPhones, and iPad and Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon first premiered at the Moscow International Film Festival on June 23, 2011. Linkin Park performed a special outdoor concert in Red Square in Moscow on the same night in celebration of the event. Initially scheduled to be released on July 1, 2011, the release was brought forward to June 29, 2011. It was announced in November 2010 that unlike Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, no scenes in the film were shot with IMAX cameras.
While many critics praised the film's visual effects and 3-D action sequences, criticism was directed towards the film's running time, acting, and script. Several critics also felt that Dark of the Moon failed to live up to the first Transformers film. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave Transformers: Dark of the Moon a score of 36% based on 244 reviews and a rating average of 4.9/10, saying, "Its special effects and 3-D shots are undeniably impressive, but they aren't enough to fill up its loud, bloated running time, or mask its thin, indifferent script." Metacritic, another review aggregator, gave the film a Metascore of 42/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews" from 37 critics.
Roger Ebert gave the film one out of four stars, criticizing its visuals, plot, characters, and dialogue. Richard Roeper likewise panned the film, giving it a D and saying that "rarely has a movie had less of a soul and less interesting characters." A.O. Scott in The New York Times wrote: "I can't decide if this movie is so spectacularly, breathtakingly dumb as to induce stupidity in anyone who watches, or so brutally brilliant that it disarms all reason. What's the difference?"
Several critics felt that Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's performances were ineffective. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film zero stars, the same rating that he had given to Revenge of the Fallen, and stated the two actors "couldn't be duller." Tirdad Derakhshani of The Philadelphia Inquirer stated that LaBeouf "plays Witwicky as if he had a ferocious case of attention deficit disorder. After two films, his fidgeting isn't cute anymore." James Berardinelli of ReelViews wrote that LaBeouf "has sunk to greater levels of incompetence here. It's hard to call his posturing and screaming 'acting'." Jason Solomons of The Observer wrote that "we're first introduced to [Huntington-Whiteley] via a close-up of her bum, segueing straight from the film's opening sequence and titles on to the pert buttocks and underwear of our heroine," and that her English posh girl accent "renders her practically unintelligible when surrounded by American accents and falling masonry." Much of the criticism towards Rosie Huntington-Whiteley compared her in an unfavorable light to Megan Fox. Lou Lumenick of the New York Post wrote that her "'acting' makes...Megan Fox look like Meryl Streep in comparison." Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail titled his review of the film, 'Come back Megan Fox, all is forgiven...'. Huntington-Whitely was later nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress for her performance, but lost to David Spade for Jack and Jill.
"For good or ill, Bay is the soul of a new machine, the poet of post-human cinema, the CEO of Hollywood's military-entertainment complex."
In a more positive review, Steve Prokopy of Ain't It Cool News found the film to better than the first two. Jim Vejvoda of IGN gave the film a score of seven out of ten, also stating that it was the best of the franchise. E! Online graded the film a B+ while noting if this film is truly the end of a trilogy, its main antagonists should have played more of a part. Website Daily Bhaskar also praised the film, rating it three and a half out of five stars, citing it as an improvement on the previous film, and writing that it "gives fans something to cheer about". CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film was an A on an F to A+ scale.
Many reviews praised the film's special effects and aggressive use of 3-D. After previewing a partial, unfinished cut of the film, Kofi Outlaw of Screen Rant declared that Bay had created the best 3-D experience since James Cameron's Avatar. Neil Schneider of Meant to be Seen, a website focused on stereoscopic 3-D gaming and entertainment, remarked that "while Transformers: Dark of the Moon had the scrapings of a really good story, this 3-D movie was shot with a 2-D script." On the topic of 3-D, Schneider said "Transformers 3 was a mix of native stereoscopic 3-D camera capturing and 2-D/3-D conversion (as a 3-D tool), and most was done very well." He added, "At a minimum, Transformers 3 demonstrates that fast cutting sequences are indeed possible and practical in stereoscopic 3-D. More than that, it was a comfortable experience and helped exemplify great use of stereoscopic 3-D with live action and digital characters. That said, I think they still could have taken it much further."
Charlie Jane Anders of io9 believed that some elements of the film were deliberate self-references to Michael Bay's own sense of under-appreciation after the backlash to the second film: "After a few hours of seeing Shia get dissed, overlooked and mistreated, the message becomes clear: Shia, as always, is a stand-in for Michael Bay. And Bay is showing us just what it felt like to deal with the ocean of Haterade—the snarking, the Razzie Award, the mean reviews—that Revenge of the Fallen unleashed." She went on to say that the film's frequent, often jarring shifts in tone were an intentional endorsement of Michael Bay's own filmmaking style. "Tone is for single-purpose machines. Consistency is for Decepticons. Michael Bay's ideal movie shifts from action movie to teen comedy to political drama with the same well-lubricated ease that his cars become men. By the time you've finished watching, you will speak Michael Bay's cinematic language."
Transformers: Dark of the Moon grossed $352,390,543 in North America, and $771,403,536 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $1,123,794,079. Worldwide, it is the ninth highest-grossing film, the second highest-grossing 2011 film, the highest-grossing film of the Transformers series, the second highest-grossing film by Paramount (behind Titanic), the second highest-grossing threequel (behind Iron Man 3), and the highest-grossing Hasbro film as of 2013. It is also the tenth film in cinematic history to earn more than $1,000 million, and the fifth-fastest film to achieve this. Its worldwide opening weekend ($382.4 million) is the fourth-largest ever and the largest for Paramount. It set an IMAX worldwide opening-weekend record with $23.1 million (first surpassed by Deathly Hallows - Part 2). It reached $400M (6 days), $500M (9 days), $600M (12 days) and $700M (16 days) in record time, but lost all records to Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
The film opened in 4,088 theaters including a then-record total of 2,789 3D locations. It made $5.5 million during Tuesday 9 p.m. showings, $8 million during midnight showings. and $37.7 million on its opening day (Wednesday) – including Tuesday showings. This was the sixth-best opening Wednesday. However, all these figures were lower than Revenge of the Fallen. On Thursday, it earned $21.5 million, falling 43%, an improvement from its predecessor's Wednesday-to-Thursday decline. It grossed $33.0 million on Friday totaling $97.8 million. Its 3D share accounted for 60% of its gross, which was atypical due to the downturn in 3D attendance in North America. For its three-day opening weekend (Friday-to-Sunday), it grossed $97.9 million. It achieved the third-largest opening weekend of 2011, the fourth-largest opening weekend in July, the fifth-largest opening weekend for a film not released on Friday and the second-largest five-day gross for a film opening on Wednesday. It set records for the 3-day ($97.9 million) and 4-day ($115.9 million) Independence Day weekend, surpassing Spider-Man 2 's record in both cases ($88.2 million and $115.8 million respectively). It retained first place on its second weekend, dropping 52% to $47.1 million. Closing on October 13, 2011 with $352.4 million, it is the second-highest grossing film of 2011 and the second-highest grossing film in the franchise.
Outside North America
The film grossed $32.5 million on its opening day, pacing 38% ahead of its predecessor. Including some early Tuesday previews, it earned $36.6 million in one-and-a-half days, and by Thursday its overseas total reached $66 million. By the end of its first weekend, it had earned $219.8 million, which stands as the fifth-largest opening weekend of all time overseas and the largest for Paramount. Its foreign launch was 57% ahead of that of Revenge of the Fallen ($139.6 million). 70% of its grosses came from 3-D (a higher 3-D share than Pirates 4 's 66%). Don Harris, general manager of distribution for Paramount, commented on the results of Dark of the Moon: "If we hadn't chosen to debut the movie later in Japan and China, we probably would have had the all-time record." The film topped the box office outside North America for two weekends in a row.
In China, its highest-grossing market after North America, the film set records for an opening day with $15.9 million, a single day with $17.4 million (overtaken by Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons) and an opening weekend with $46.8 million ($62.7 million with previews). The latter was taken from Avatar ($42.0 million). The opening weekend record, when including previews, was surpassed by Titanic 3D ($74.2 million). Dark of the Moon ended its run with $167.95 million, marking the highest-grossing film of 2011. Besides China, it broke the opening-day record in Russia and South Korea; the single-day record in Hong Kong; and the opening weekend record in South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, the UAE, the Philippines and Peru (the last three records were surpassed by Marvel's The Avengers). Following China in total earnings were South Korea ($69.1 million) and Japan ($54.2 million).
During Hasbro Investor Day, it was announced that the DVD and Blu-ray disc would be released in the fourth quarter of 2011. The NTSC home release for the film was released on September 30, 2011, with a Blu-ray 3D version of the film slated for release in "the coming months". However, the first home release was criticized for the lack of bonus features.
A Walmart exclusive edition of Transformers: Dark of the Moon also was released on September 30, 2011. The PAL DVD and Blu-ray Discs of Transformers: Dark of the Moon was released on November 28, 2011.
In North America, it sold 716,218 DVD units (equivalent of $13,565,169) in its first week, topping the weekly DVD chart. As of February 26, 2012 , it has sold 2,829,285 DVD units (equivalent of $48,058,979). It also topped the Blu-ray charts on the same week and it has sold 2,381,657 Blu-ray units (earning $50,934,911) by October 23, 2011. The Blu-ray 3D release of the film was released on January 31, 2012.
The aftermarket multimedia bundle Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon consists of a DVD or Blu-ray copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and a CD or digital copy of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, intended to be synchronized by setting one's CD or media file player to repeat mode and relatively high volume, turning the audiovisual volume down or off, playing the DVD or Blu-ray disc, and starting the CD as the final star in the Paramount logo appears.
The fourth film in the Transformers film series, Age of Extinction, was released June 27, 2014. A fifth film, as of now titled Transformers 5, is scheduled for a summer 2017 release.
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Transformers: Dark of the Moon navigation boxes